Violence threatens to spiral
The death of John Garang, First Vice President of Sudan and President of southern Sudan, in a helicopter crash was officially made public on 1 August. This news caused a rapid deterioration in the security situation in various parts of the country. Street demonstrations and riots broke out in the capital, Khartoum, where vehicles and markets were burned, shops were looted and gunshots resounded. No part of the city was spared the effects of the violence. Further riots were reported in the southern towns of Malakal and Juba, where vehicles and markets were also set on fire.
In spite of calls for calm by the government and the Sudan People's Liberation Movement, and the reaffirmation of their commitment to the peace process, the situation remained tense and sporadically violent, even during the dawn-to-dusk curfew imposed on 1 August in Khartoum and urban centres in the south. The hardest-hit areas of Khartoum have been the mixed neighbourhoods and the outskirts of the city, where some two million displaced people from the south reside.
On 3 August, 84 bodies were reportedly lying in the city mortuary next to Khartoum hospital while news of further casualties continued to come in. With rumours fuelling the mounting tension, the local media had little reliable information to provide.
The ICRC is currently supporting the emergency response efforts of the Sudanese Red Crescent Society (SRCS) through the latter's Khartoum branch. The ICRC has so far provided two ambulances with drivers as well as fuel, stretchers and dressing kits for the treatment and evacuation of injured people to hospitals and other medical facilities. On the first day alone, the SRCS evacuated some 40 dead and 200 wounded, while the ICRC medical team based at the Juba Teaching Hospital treated upwards of 30 severely wounded people. The ICRC is now assessing the situation and remains ready to provide further assistance. So far, the violence has not had any major effects in the eastern and western parts of the country.
ICRC operations in Darfur
Livestock vaccination in North Darfur
This week, in the region of Kutum in North Darfur, the ICRC has been carrying out a programme designed to ensure that livestock can remain healthy and resist the current harsh conditions. This was a major priority expressed by the local nomadic and pastoralist communities when the ICRC assessed their needs.
For the third successive year, herders are finding it extremely difficult to feed tens of thousands of animals in this area, where movement is hampered. In addition, livestock have not been recently vaccinated and this increases the risk of infectious or fatal diseases with disastrous effects on the livelihoods of herders.
Up to 500,000 camels, goats, sheep and cattle belonging to both nomadic and sedentary communities will be vaccinated as part of the programme, mainly against haemorrhagic septicaemia. Five teams, fully trained and equipped with the necessary drugs and medical kits, are moving through northern and western Kutum. The vaccines and some of the equipment have been provided by the Sudanese government, while the ICRC is supplying the necessary staff and logistical means. The ICRC is also in a position to move about in rebel-held areas, thereby ensuring a broad outreach to all communities.
New fistula programme in Lopiding
As a consequence of over 20 years of war, access to health care remains a big problem for people in southern Sudan. Women with injuries caused by obstructed labour, for example, can remain for days without proper medical treatment. During this period, the foetus can die and the mother can develop a rectal and vesico-vaginal fistula (VVF), leading to infections and other serious and debilitating medical problems.
Because of their inability to bear children and various other characteristics of their condition, women who suffer from VVF are often rejected by their families and even society as a whole, and are thus condemned to living a life of isolation.
In 2002, for the first time, the ICRC hospital in Lopiding (ICRC Lokichokio sub-delegation), which normally specializes in the treatment of war wounded, performed surgery on 50 VVF cases during a period of several weeks, achieving excellent results for most of the women involved. The following year the same team, this time headed by an Ethiopian surgeon among the world's foremost specialists in VVF, repeated the programme.
Two weeks ago the same team arrived in Lopiding to treat some 50 VVF cases from southern Sudan. All of the patients had received preparation for the surgery. A few needed to gain weight, while others, more severely affected, required a prior colostomy. The results are encouraging: most of the patients will gradually be able to resume a normal life after two weeks of bed rest and some will even be able to give birth again.
Sudan remains the ICRC's largest operation worldwide. Currently there are some 2,000 national staff and 200 expatriates working for the ICRC throughout Sudan, roughly half of whom are based in Darfur.
Since the beginning of 2005, the ICRC has carried out the following activities:
- Supplied water to urban areas and to six camps for displaced persons
- Repaired water networks in three towns (Kutum, Gereida and Al Junaina)
- Distributed 18,674 tonnes of food to 300,000 regular beneficiaries
- Continued to discuss protection issues systematically and confidentially with all the parties to the conflict, at all levels, through its delegates present in all Darfur states
In Sudan as a whole:
- Rehabilitated and upgraded infrastructure in five hospitals and 12 primary health clinics
- Supported four hospitals and 12 primary health clinics, providing them with staff and medicines, giving consultations and performing surgery, and running expanded immunization and training programmes
- Conducted 143 sessions on international humanitarian law, ICRC activities and the principles of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement for over 7,200 people, including government officials, members of the armed forces, opposition groups, Arab and other militias and religious and community leaders
- Provided 200,500 people with 20,000 tarpaulins, 60,000 blankets, 26,000 kilos of soap, 6,500 kitchen sets and 15,000 jerrycans
- Distributed 7,800 items of clothing for women, 15,000 for girls and 15,000 for boys; distributed 4,000 sandals for women and 28,000 for children
- Repaired, refurbished or rehabilitated 263 hand pumps, 22 mechanized boreholes, 22 shallow wells and 11 water yards.
- Provided water for some 590,000 residents and 140,000 internally displaced people
- Collected 16,255 Red Cross Messages and distributed 16,227
For further information, please contact:
Lorena Brander, ICRC Khartoum, tel. :
++ 249 1 83 476 464 or 249 9 121 37 764
Annick Bouvier, ICRC Geneva, tel. ++ 41 22 730 2458 or ++ 41 79 217 3224
or visit our website: www.icrc.org